Housing scheme for Chepstow’s ex-forensic site before planners

A PROPOSAL to build a housing development on the former Chepstow forensic laboratory site will be discussed by planners in the new year.

Housing developer Charles Church East Wales wants to demolish the buildings to make way for 32 homes off Usk Road.

The 4.3 acre site has been vacant since 2010 after the government announced it was closing three regional laboratories, including Chepstow, because of £2 million monthly losses.

The Forensic Science Service was used by police forces and government agencies of England and Wales until its demise and its work was contracted out to the private sector. The Chepstow closure went ahead with the loss of 168 jobs, despite passionate calls by politicians and 2011 head of Gwent CID Ray Wise to save it.

Charles Church East Wales held talks with Monmouthshire council in 2012 and it was decided developing the site for housing was acceptable in principle.

The plans include 26 detached two-storey homes and six affordable homes, made up of four terraces and two flats, in accordance with planning policy and an area of public open space.

Access to the estate would be at the existing entrance and an additional pedestrian access provided via a footpath link off St Lawrence Road.

The developer suggests a proportion of journeys between the site and Chepstow town centre will be on foot as it is nearby.

The planning statement said: “It is important to note the site is in an inherently sustainable location to create a new neighbourhood.”

But Chepstow Town Council opposes the application, believing the site offers excellent opportunities for employment or services and says the current infrastructure is inadequate to sustain the proposed development, adding to congestion.

The council’s planning officer argues in a report that the existing buildings could not easily be converted for alternative use due to their specific nature.

Two nearby home owners have raised major concerns about the noise from the demolition and construction on the adjoining guest house business as well as the traffic implications.

The application is due to be discussed by Monmouthshire council’s planning committee at County Hall, Llanbadoc, near Usk, on January 7.

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